Weekly Write: “Skinny Jeans” by Brianna Radke

Skinny Jeans

The checker asked my mother
Another one on the way already?
She cried the whole way home
and for a few days after that.
She started The Soup Diet.
Every meal: canned tomato, cabbage,
carrot, onion, water, sorry.

A magazine filled with women
with broken looking-limbs said to look at my
body as a whole, instead of in parts,
a drug-dealer holding a stigma seminar
on a page I tore out and taped to
my mirror and ignored forever.

She went barely-not-running
every day, all the way to Skinny.
I held a contest and decided if
I had to eat my own body,
I would start with my thighs –
I imagine they would be self-basting,
dimples melting and
barely-not-running all directions.

She bought a pair of jeans
that were Too Big for her and
asked me if I wanted them?
I did not if I recall.
I started the Potato Diet.
Morning: half a microwaved potato,
and the other half
only if you Absolutely have to.

After passing out, I remembered
a torn out page from the book on
my head saying bring a napkin
or two in your purse
so you can spit out your poison
without being rude.

 

A Pacific Northwest native, Brianna Radke now lives in the Greater Los Angeles area where she is a Director of Marketing by day and a writer and poet by night. Most recently, her work has appeared in Chaleur Magazine, Exposition Review, and (forthcoming) Haunted Waters Press.

 

 

 

“Like”, “Share”, and comment on this poem to nominate it for the Annual Swimming with Elephants Publications 2019 Anthology.

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Weekly Write: “Colic Weather” by Gary Beaumier

Colic Weather

The wind was a bombardment
of ice and snow
that morning when
you returned from the barn
to say your old gelding
had died of colic.

Later I winched him
out of his stall
and carefully dragged him
behind the tractor
to a clearing beyond the pasture.

His plush winters coat
could not conceal
the articulated bone over
his once muscled flank
We knew his last days
we’re nearing.

As you cut off a portion
of his tail with
your pocket knife
for a remembrance
you say to me
“ I never partnered better
on any horse then him.
Too bad humans aren’t
that easy.”
You gave me a hard look
as you snapped the knife shut
and walked toward the house.

The ground
yet unfrozen
yields to the back hoe
and I pack
the earth down over him
so coyotes won’t
dig him up.

When I return to the house
you make me tea
as a peace offering
but that night I hear
the yip and cry
of a pack
over your restless sleep
and I worry things
won’t stay buried
…but then I worry
things will.

 

In his later years Gary Beaumier has become something of a beachcomber and has self diagnosed with “compulsive walking disorder.” On a number of occasions he has cobbled together wooden sailboats.

He is a finalist and semi finalist for the Luminaire Award for several of his poems.
He has had three poems published in Flumes Winter 2017 and one poem in Third Wednesday as well as one poem in Chaleur Magazine, The Piltdown Review, The Esthetic Apostle, The Internet Void, an upcoming issue of Raw Arts Review and a recording in Lit_Tapes. He taught poetry in a women’s prison.

 

 

 

“Like”, “Share”, and comment on this poem to nominate it for the Annual Swimming with Elephants Publications 2019 Anthology.

Click here check out Parade: Swimming with Elephants Publications Anthology 2018 available for only $10.95.

Weekly Write: “Blue” by Katie Karnehm-Esh

Blue

I think of the soft blue sweatsuit you were wearing that warm day in May. Then I think of the way you stared through the bars of the crib, and us. You must be a teenager by now; do you still sleep in a crib? I have a photo of you in my office that one of the students took—do you remember the boy with the red hair?—as I clipped your fingernails through the bars. I can’t look at it very often, and I am grateful that in this photo I cannot see your face. Sometimes my heart still twists up when I think of you, lying on your side staring into a dark tiled room, making occasional noises in neither English nor Mandarin.

Did you know I thought you were a boy the whole afternoon? Blame it on the bowl haircut or the blue sweatsuit. After two weeks in China, I should have known so many of you become androgynous in the orphanage. But I knew the gender of the tiny girl in pink who grinned and stole food. We brought snacks for all the children, and she grabbed the largest hoard. Everyone but you and the infants had a stash, curled their bodies around their plastic-wrapped food. Midway through washing our hands, the water stopped. The German nurse told us the director often turns off the water, that at mealtimes the workers put out food and let the children fend for themselves. Fewer diapers this way. We thought of this when they served us a private cafeteria feast. So much broccoli and pork. So many noodles choking in our throats. The German nurse said, “Eat. If you get upset. I can’t come back to help them.”

I picked you up to help you eat the smashed bananas. The nurses said you would choke and throw up if you ate; they said you only ate milk. I offered a spoonful, slow. Then another, praying it wouldn’t make you sick later.

After I picked you up, there was no reason to put you down. They told me later you were nine years old, but I could not believe you were more than five. You were stiff and quiet in my arms, sometimes seizing into fast shallow breaths. It’s OK, I would tell you, rocking back and forth. We swayed down the green-gray hallway, stopping in the bathroom where two children sat on the floor in a shower stall. One kept laughing and laughing as the water gurgled. The other sat as silent as you. “They protect each other,” one of the nurses told me. The tiny pink grinning girl ran up to me and demanded more snacks. When you started to hyperventilate again, I patted your back. Your spine was like the ridges of a rock wall.

When the German nurse told us we had twenty more minutes, and went back to checking vital signs and bruises, I stepped outside into the courtyard with you. You blinked; so much green and sun. The guard dog in the courtyard barked at us, asking who are you? We walked over to answer. He stared at us from behind a circular fence surrounding a tall tree, and you stared back at him, that furry black thing. Then you leaned your head on my shoulder and sighed.

Something inside me didn’t so much crack as give way. I looked at the white van we’d ridden in from Shenyang, and thought about our flight on Sunday, your crib in the big tiled room, the bananas the workers said you couldn’t eat. If I made a run for the van with you, the German nurse could never come back to feed you.

When she said it was time to go, she didn’t seem angry that it took me a long time to walk you back to your crib and lay you down. You stared out into the room, like you had when I found you. I don’t know what I said. Maybe nothing. I speak English after all. This was not the right place to say I love you or I’ll come back because maybe lying is worse than never having been here. So I whispered goodbye; it’s OK; goodbye; it’s OK while I put you back in your bed and walked away.

Did you know that for months afterwards, I sent emails to check on you? I asked as casually as I could, in a way that someone who is voluntarily childless and in a bad marriage will ask after a child thousands of miles away in an orphanage that does not give up children or feed them. You would never be coming home with me. So when I prayed, it was that you had food. That you had green afternoons and sunshine and a dog barking hello! And that sometimes, when someone rubbed your back and clipped your fingernails and told you it was OK, this would feel like a happy, reoccurring dream you couldn’t quite place.

 

Katie Karnehm-Esh’s background is in creative nonfiction and poetry, with a Ph.D in creative writing from the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Her writing has been published in Whale Road Review, Barren Magazine, The Cresset, The Other Journal, and Windhover. Additionally, she writes a monthly blog for Annesley Writers Forum. Her writing often centers around holistic health, travel, and faith as well as social justice, and she welcomes the opportunity to learn from fellow writers.

 

 

 

“Like”, “Share”, and comment on this poem to nominate it for the Annual Swimming with Elephants Publications 2019 Anthology.

Click here check out Parade: Swimming with Elephants Publications Anthology 2018 available for only $10.95.

Weekly Write: “Afternoon” by Holly Painter

Afternoon

In the afternoon, when the sun lit
the endless fall of dust particles, we
wondered if only we could see them

and kept wondering as we fell asleep,
your limbs wrapped around me,
a barnacle bigger than the boat,

and your fingers twitched
Morse code messages on my back
as you dreamed and then forgot

you were dreaming, until you woke
and the room was grey and you
remembered there is no color

without the light, except behind
my eyelids where my dreams
continued because I didn’t know

the sun had set and taken all the colors with it.

 

Holly Painter lives with her wife and son in Vermont, where she teaches writing and literature at the University of Vermont. Her first full-length book of poetry, Excerpts from a Natural History, was published by Titus Books (2015). Her poetry, fiction, and essays have also been published in literary journals and anthologies in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Singapore, and the UK.

 

 

 

“Like”, “Share”, and comment on this poem to nominate it for the Annual Swimming with Elephants Publications 2019 Anthology.

Click here check out Parade: Swimming with Elephants Publications Anthology 2018 available for only $10.95.

Weekly Write: “A Poet Is” by Romana Iorga

A Poet Is

1.
An eel, open-mouthed at the mouth
of its burrow, borrowing time
until the right prey comes along.

Fish glide by with their frivolous tails
of who kissed whom in the seaweed
and who got in trouble with the shark.

2.
An owl, morose on its branch,
hungry for three days now and counting,
waiting for the big game.

Mice won’t suffice any longer. No to juvenile
rabbits, daft foxes, reckless raccoons.
A moose would be good.

3.
A spider, spinning constantly, greedily, not
so patiently, slowly becoming Whitman
of the white beard and wide-brimmed hat.

Then, erasing the web, one strand
at a time, for perceived flaws. Nothing
ever catches in the unraveling snare.

4.
A child, whose quick hand traps the tail
of a lizard. He watches it wriggle in the dirt,
while the prey darts for its life.

Swift, swift, swiftly into the blessed
shadow of weeds, into the yawning
jaws of a snake, who’s not even

a poet.

 

Originally from Chisinau, Moldova, Romana Iorga is a  Romanian-American poet living in Switzerland. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ruminate, saltfront, Borderlands, as well as on her poetry blog at clayandbranches.com.

 

 

 

“Like”, “Share”, and comment on this poem to nominate it for the Annual Swimming with Elephants Publications 2019 Anthology.

Click here check out Parade: Swimming with Elephants Publications Anthology 2018 available for only $10.95.